The following is an excerpt from my free ebook - "How to design and create a great ebook even if you don't know a font from a folio and haven't a clue as to how to begin, anyway..." There is a download link at the end of the excerpt.
You’ve decided to self-publish your book on the Web! For any of a hundred valid reasons you’ve decided to do-it-yourself and I’m tickled for you! It’s fun, challenging, and nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment when you click on that icon and your book comes up on the screen. Writing a book is a monumental effort, and you deserve a lot of credit for that. Just getting to this point puts you head and shoulders above most of the would-be writers out there, and you're halfway through the publishing process. Now comes the fun part - getting your book published.
Publishing a book is no more than a dream for most people. How many writers have good manuscripts tucked away at the bottom of a drawer because they can’t (or won’t) market them? How many others have dutifully sent off their manuscripts to 10 or 20 or 50 publishers with nothing more to show for it than a stack of rejection slips? There are many, many manuscripts out there that deserve to be published, that have a market waiting for what they have written, and yet, because of the way traditional publishing works, these books will never make it to print. But, the Internet has given us a unique alternative to traditional publishing – the ebook and electronic publishing!
The Five – no, better make that 6 - Types of Publishing
When writers think of publishers, they automatically think in terms of the "Big Boys" - Random House, Prentice-Hall, etc. and they automatically think in terms of a royalty publisher, because that’s all they have really ever heard about. If you are serious about getting your work published, you need to expand your thinking and look into some alternatives.
There used to be five major types of publishing - Royalty, Subsidy, Co-op, Vanity, and Self-Publishing. Now we have a sixth alternative – publishing on the Web. Here’s a quick overview of each type with some of their advantages and disadvantages.
Royalty publishing is, plain and simple, traditional publishing. Royalty publishers include the large publishing houses as well as thousands of small presses scattered throughout the country. In it’s simplest terms, you submit your work to them and they determine whether the book meets their needs, has potential, is well-written, can be produced economically, etc. If you fulfill all their criteria, they offer a contract (and possibly an advance against royalties.) You sign the contract, and eventually your book is published.
The disadvantages include (a) the lack of control over your book, (b) the money is poor considering the time and work expended, (c) time – it takes forever! and (d) there is a tremendous amount of competition out there.
The advantages include (a) no out-of-pocket costs of production for the author, (b) some money is better than no money, (c) you may get national distribution, and national or regional publicity, and (d) the personal satisfaction of being able to say, "My book is being published by So-and-So Publishing."
Although subsidy publishing is often wrongly confused with vanity publishing and self-publishing, it really means that a third party is paying for the publication of your book. The third party may be an investor, or even a corporate sponsor who plans to use your book to promote the company. Several hundred years ago, all publishing was subsidy publishing, with the author's "patron" footing the bills. Today the "patrons" are investors or corporations, and they do it for the profit it will bring them, not because they have a love of the written word.
The disadvantages include: (a) writing to fit someone else's needs and wants, (b) it can be hard to find an investor or sponsor, (c) your work may be limited to the sponsor's use, (d) you may have to share your profits (if there are any) with an investor, and (e) the sponsor or investor will want the lion’s share of input into both the book's content and the production process.
The advantages include: (a) someone else foots the bills, (b) you will be published, (c) you may have more control over the book's physical appearance, and (d) there can be a good return in money for the time invested in writing.
Co-op publishing is most often done by small presses and applies to books that the publisher thinks are marginal as far as their marketability. Co-op is something the publisher offers to the author to cut his risk. In co-op, the author and publisher share the costs of production in varying percentages, usually with the profits also being shared. For instance, the publisher may ask the author to cover the costs of the pre-press work, while he covers the costs of printing and marketing. In return, you will split the profits or get a higher royalty rate. The possible arrangements are almost endless, so if offered a co-op contract, negotiate. The first offer is rarely the last offer.
Co-op can be advantageous to a new author. It tells you that the publisher is willing to take some risk on your book, so he thinks it has some merit, and it should give you more say in the production process. Chances are, you will be expected to help market and promote your book, so if you have ideas you’d like to see implemented, co-op can give you the chance to try them out.
The biggest disadvantage is the cost involved, and this can vary greatly depending on the production processes used, local costs, and the size of the print run. Other disadvantages include (a) being tied into a long-term contract if your book sells well, and (b) confusing and unclear contract terms.
Vanity publishers will print anything, and promise everything, as long as you pay for it. Vanity presses have a poor reputation, but unlike many people, I feel there is a place for the vanity press. Anyone who wants to get published should be able to do so, and for some books and authors, this is the only way to do it. If you consider publishing with a vanity press, just be careful. Understand exactly what you are paying for - in most cases, you are paying for their publishing services, not the books that are being printed. In most cases, you don’t even own the books that have been printed – they belong to the vanity press! Also, vanity presses are notoriously poor in marketing, so most authors using vanity presses end up with their books being stored in a warehouse somewhere until the publisher remainders them. Whatever you do, don’t confuse vanity publishing with self-publishing!
Self-publishing is, literally, publishing your material yourself. Self-publishing takes a very special kind of person. It’s the kind of person…
It takes someone with an eye for detail and never-ending patience. It takes creativity and the ability to look at things in new ways. It also means you take the risks, and succeed or fail on your own merits.
Web publishing is electronic self-publishing. It can also be the electronic equivalent of all the other types of publishing as well, but with one major exception – the rules are very different on the Web. It’s the closest thing you can find to real freedom of expression. It’s also the closest thing to instant publishing that you can find. Write a web page, post it, and it’s instantly visible to the world. You’re not limited in format, either. You can publish a single web page, a site, any number of types of ebooks, and you can supplement with print-on-demand printed copies. You can add all kinds of multimedia to your book. You can produce books as fast as you can write them, and get instant feedback. It’s a remarkable medium!
Each new project creates its own excitement and momentum. The ebook you create will be uniquely yours. It will have the title you want, it will look the way you have visualized it, every comma will be just as you choose, and it will be on the Web when you want it to be. It will be nothing less than the full expression of your thoughts, feelings, and creativity.
There are many advantages to electronic publishing (e-publishing) and many rewards. But, before you can reap the rewards, there’s a lot of work to be done if you want to do it right. You will be controlling every aspect of the book’s production. That means a lot of tedious detail checking, double-checking and then checking once more - just to be sure. It means you can’t assume anything. (Remember that the word assume makes an "ass" of "u" and "me.") It means dealing with a new variety of people. It means learning a new vocabulary so you can accurately communicate your wants and needs to these people, and in the end, it means you are the only one responsible for the finished product. You’ll have no one to blame but yourself if it doesn’t work, but you’ll be the only one taking the bows if it does. A lot of responsibility, isn’t it? Don’t feel overwhelmed or discouraged - help is available.
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